Meeting Melanie Jones, the mother of Rhys Jones, was nerve-wracking for Sinead Keenan.
The Irish actress plays Melanie in ‘Little Boy Blue’, the ITV drama that starts tonight and tells the story of her how her 11-year-old son was fatally shot on his way back from football training in 2007. Sinead tells HuffPostUK of her first encounter with the still grieving mother:
“I was a little bit nervous, I’d never played a real life person before, and one we know about because of the worst possible situation you could find yourself in. With that comes a lot of responsibility. No doubt it was odd for her as well.
“She was very warm and generous with her time, and we had a good couple of hours. “Knowing that she and Steve were so involved (in making the drama) from the get-go, that was a huge help.
“They spoke a lot about the trial, and things in the script that I would have thought were dramatic licence, in terms of how the (accused) boys behaved in the dock. During the court case, they behaved so badly, utterly dismissive and disrespectful, in the faces of Rhys’s parents. I read that and thought, no human being is going to behave like that, but it was what happened.
“Melanie was upset, and the judge sent a message to her, ‘If you’re going to continue to be upset, we’d prefer it if you didn’t come into the courtroom.’
“Perhaps the judge was allowing them (the boys) to hang themselves, but you do ask, how is that possible?”
Sinead was particularly struck by Melanie’s account of how, when she tried to touch her son in hospital, she was stopped by the police, because Rhys’s body was still required for evidence to solve his murder:
“The next day, after he’d been shot, they went in to see him, and there was a policewoman with them.
“A porter in the hospital knew that Rhys was a big Everton fan, and he got an Everton pillow and quilt so it was like he was asleep in bed, and she went to touch him, as you would, and it was like he was in his bed at home, and she touched his hair, and the police officer said, ‘If you touch him again, I’ll arrest you,’ because the body was evidence. It’s understandable, but it’s such a cruel process.”
Sinead, whose performance throughout ‘Little Boy Blue’ is just one of the most compelling elements of this drama, tells HuffPostUK Melanie’s feelings about how her story has been told is of utmost importance to her:
“I hope that she and Steve are happy, if you can say happy, with the piece. They’ve been so closely involved, there won’t be any surprises for them.”
‘Little Boy Blue’ is on ITV on Monday evenings for the next four weeks. Catch up on ITV Player.